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Identifying and Integrating Healthy Fat Into Your Diet

If you’re trying to integrate healthier foods into your diet and lower your cholesterol, you may think eliminating all fatty foods is the way to go. But you’d be wrong. In fact, there are many foods that despite their high fat content actually offer huge health benefits. Check out the list below to learn more about healthier fats and how you can incorporate them into your diet.

Monounsaturated fat

This type of fat decreases bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases "good" cholesterol (HDL), and can be found in the following food items:

  • Canola oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Olives
  • Nuts

While all of these foods can offer great health benefits, it is important to keep in mind that consuming too much of a good thing can be bad. So keep the serving size in mind when consuming any of the foods listed above.

Polyunsaturated fat

Consuming foods with this type of fat can lead to decreased LDL and increased HDL ("good" cholesterol), and can be found in oils from safflower, cottonseed, corn, flaxseed, sunflower, grape seed, walnut, and soybean, and fish, says Tracey Lucier, Nutrition Educator at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

Omega-3 fatty acids

You’ve probably heard a lot of about Omega-3’s lately—they’re a type of fat that protect blood vessel walls from damage, and it has been said that they also reduce inflammation and protect against cardiovascular disease. "Try eating fish at least 2-3 times a week, especially those types that are rich in omega 3 fats like salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut, and tuna," advises.

Plant stanols and sterols

These two items are added to "functional foods," such as yogurt, margarine, and some granola bars, and are designed to decrease bad cholesterol, says Elizabeth Staum, M.S., RD, LDN, at The Joslin Diabetes Center.

As aforementioned, it is crucial to follow the serving size guidelines in order to reap the most benefits of these healthier fats. If you have questions about portion sizes, contact The Joslin Diabetes Center’s Nutrition Education department at (617) 732-2440.

Page last updated: December 18, 2014